When my dear friend Benita evacuated her comfy hole in Park Slope to live in the lap of luxury in the Peach State, she ended up leaving me with her liquor stash. A typical woman’s liquor stash can be both gift and curse to a man like myself, especially when her preferences include all the light and sweet kinds of things that go down easy. I was schooled in alcohol by men of Caribbean and Cuban stock. They don’t believe in easy.

Such was the case with Benita’s supply after Byron and I polished off the Brugal and one or two other of our favorites in the bunch. The point of all this is that I’ve had a bottle of PISA, an Italian, nut liqueur, sitting on my kitchen for almost six months now. It was time to use it.

Chicken is a slave to fashion. It’s all about how you cook it and with what. I’ve always been good with it, but in the New York years have often lacked the patience for dishes that involved cooking the bird come with the bones still in.

As poverty is the mother of great cooking, the five-dollar package of chicken legs with thighs attached I’d bought was an invitation to make a meal that went down well on a shoestring budget. What resulted was the first dish I’ve ever named after a person: El Pollo Benita.


1 package of chicken legs with thighs attached
2 cloves of garlic
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Seasoned Salt
Any liqueur (As PISA isn’t available anywhere)


Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Rub the raw legs with a combination of the spices and a little oil, spreading the seasonings evenly across the flesh.

Place the seasoned chicken in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Add 4tsps of olive oil to a skillet and put it on a medium flame. At the same time add your liquor to a saucepan with 3 tbsp of butter, a dash of sea salt and some chopped garlic. Stir and put the saucepan under a low heat until it comes to a nice boil.

Add your rubbed chicken legs to the skillet with olive oil and sear them on both sides until the outer skin is golden brown. Then pour half of your marinade over the cooking pieces and put them in the oven for 25 minutes.

Take the pieces out and cover them with the other half of the marinade.

Turn the oven up to broil and put them in the broiler for another 5-8 minutes.

Take them out and prepare to serve.

Note: In the photo above, El Pollo Benita is served with long grain rice cooked in chicken stock and a little grilled kale. This is a dinner you can do anytime and for under ten bucks (as long as you have the liqueur in the house)